Chinese Growth has slowed for a seventh consecutive quarter, leading to fears that the world's second largest economy is nearing the end of an unsustainable age of rapid expansion.
China's GDP grew 7.4pc in the third quarter of the year according to data from The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Last year the country saw growth of 9.2pc and over the last three decades the average has been nearer to 10pc.
The figure for the last quarter was the weakest since the first three months of 2009, when the global financial crisis weighed on China and led to relatively subdued growth of 6.6pc. The deepening crisis has been causing slowing growth in China's economy every quarter since early last year.
But government officials said that there were signs that the country was stabilising. The average GDP growth for the year so far has been revised down to 7.7pc, but this is still above the official 2012 target of 7.5pc.
NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun told reporters at a briefing: "Judging from figures in the third quarter and particularly in September, the signs that the national economy is stabilising are clearer.
"The main indicators showed that although growth still slowed, the pace of the decline slowed," he said.
The chief of mining giant BHP Billiton (NZSE: BHP.NZ - news) , Marius Kloppers, warned yesterday that demand for steel from China had reached its peak. A rapid building programme across the country had caused a surge in demand for steel, which had helped drive iron ore revenue for BHP Billiton.
But Mr Kloppers said that China had now settled into a period where GDP growth would remain at around 8pc. “The record prices we experienced over the past decade, driven by the demand shock, will not be there to support returns over the next 10 years,” he said.
Other analysts expected China to recover its previous levels of growth. Kevin Lai, an economist at Daiwa in Hong Kong, told Reuters: "Growth this quarter should be back above 8pc. The worst should be over. We are seeing better numbers in industrial production and retail sales."
In a bid to revive growth the government has cut interest rates twice this year, and efforts to slow the racing property market have also helped to stabilise prices. Analysts expect no further immediate action on the Chinese economy as the country enters a sensitive political period. On November 8 the Communist Party congress will begin, at which new leaders will be selected to rule China for the next decade.